The American Academy of Pediatrics and Stanford University both recommend that solutions to childhood obesity focus on opportunities for free play and the provision of facilities for play. There is a growing body of research that suggests children will be more active if they are given opportunities to engage in unstructured or free play. Active children are less likely to be obese and less prone to have obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Unstructured play gets children moving, and more active children are more likely to be physically healthy. The Institute of Medicine recently released a report identifying local government as the ideal leader on this issue, citing "...build and maintain parks and playgrounds that are safe and attractive for playing and in close proximity to residential areas" as a critical goal in combating childhood obesity.
What are we going to do???
A Play Task Force was created by the City, and is composed of representatives from nonprofits, volunteers and government. Our first big challenge was to arrange for Play Days – events for the entire city to participate in. We arranged for several throughout the year:
Future Play Days
KaBOOM! Play Days are held each summer at various locations and welcome families to come out for food, fun and games.
How Playful City USA helps our city:
Local and national media campaigns led by KaBOOM! combined with increased local media attention highlighting communities committed to community development, physical activity and anti-obesity initiatives, Priority status and access to grant opportunities that have totaled $3.8MM since 2007, and access to best practices from leading cities across the country.
The Dirty Dozen Checklist
Keep your playgrounds safe. Check out information on the Top 12 Safety Hazards in America's Playgrounds
Check out a NEW Playground Safety video created by Re'Nay Myatt. Re'Nay is a Senior at Wayne High School and a Anthis Career Center student in TV Production. Thanks to Re'Nay for providing this video to us.
Playful City USA positions our city on a timely issue:
As you know, the First Lady of the United States recently launched the "Let's Move" initiative in direct response to the childhood obesity epidemic. During her speech at the January 2010 U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, she acknowledged the role that cities can play in fighting childhood obesity and increasing physical activity in young people:
"It makes sense that [mayors] would take the lead on this issue. Because like much of what you do each day, this isn't a partisan issue. This has nothing to do with whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative. It's about the kind of future we want for our kids. And it's about whether we're willing to use both our policies and our bully pulpits to build that future."
As a PLAYFUL CITY USA, our community will be able to:
· Create a generation of children who are happier, smarter, and healthier
· Increase awareness to the benefits and availability of play in our community
· Improve our ability to raise outside funding and attract private sector support
· Receive recognition and honors at several national conferences of our peers
· Access special incentive opportunities and highway signs in honor of our Playful City USA status
· Receive priority status in accessing all KaBOOM! resources, including playground builds and programmatic grants (totaling over $3.8MM since 2007)
Check out KaBOOM for more information on the process to become a "Playful City".
Photos from some Playgrounds in Fort Wayne